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Midwives key to maternal health

Monday June 23rd, 2014

The world has yet to harness the benefits of midwifery, experts say today.

Wider and better use of skilled midwives could help cut deaths of mothers and babies and reduce the toll of illness linked to pregnancy, according to the experts.

The benefits of midwives are being reported in a special series in top medical journal The Lancet.

It says more than 75% of deaths of mothers and babies could be prevented in the countries where they pose the biggest problem by the use of effective midwifery.

Professor Mary Renfrew, of Dundee University, Scotland, says: "Many of the needs of childbearing women, their babies, and families across the world are still not being met, despite long-standing recognition that women and their babies need access to health care which provides more than just emergency interventions for acute medical problems.

"Although midwifery is already widely acknowledged as making a vital and cost-effective contribution to high-quality maternal and newborn care in many countries, its potential social, economic and health benefits are far from being realised on a global scale."

Professor Petra ten Hoope-Bender, of the Instituto do Cooperación Social Integrare, Barcelona, Spain, adds: "It is important to understand that to be most effective, a midwife must have access to a functioning health-care service, and for her work to be respected, and integrated with other health-care professionals; the provision of health care and midwifery services must be effectively connected across communities and health-care facilities."

The findings were welcomed by Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the UK Royal College of Midwives.

She said: "In the UK we are fortunate in that our maternity services are based on all women needing a midwife and all women having a named midwife. As we look to the future and particularly as we look to make the best use of available resources it is critical that we do not dilute this concept."

The Lancet 23 June 2014

Tags: Africa | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Nursing & Midwifery | UK News | World Health

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